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Runt of the Litter

31 July 2000
George is as George does.

Winter, several years ago now. My work experience placement in a private hospital; attired in a sputum-brown polyester tunic to protect myself from the body fluids being joyfully exuded by the whiskered patients and bored to the point of schizophrenia. Having perused every Take a Break and The Lady in the waiting area, I was now awaiting the arrival of my mother in her nippy and, compared to the wards, so damn-bright purple joymobile. She didn't come, and I can't remember why now. But I do recall the ninety minute walk home in the cold and slushy rain, and how unsurprised I was at my freezing misery. This was how things were meant to be; this was February.

April may well be the cruellest month, but February is the most pitiful. Fair play on April; at least it has the nads to stand up for what it believes in and not care who gets hurt on the way. Different shades of tempest every day? Go on! And maybe some hailstones and rainbows in for fun and effect darling? February doesn't even have the gall to try thunder - midstrength rain and grey skies stretch its artistic abilities to their feeble maximum. Snow? - but I've sprained my wrist and slush-puppy rain is all I can manage, then bed.

February is arse. In a fit of anthropological whimsy, see old Father Time as a sow, rolling in the metamud of her cosmic sty, pushing out her baby piglet months one by squealing one. Plump little January and December, both right porkers - thirty-one days heavy and still growing! - both with a sprinkling of festive glitter around the ears. The summer triplets June, July and August, tanned and cheerful. The quieter October and November, snuffling merrily in the fallen leaves by their mother. And at the end, choking on the afterbirth, skinny, scrawny, and making enough noise to raise the valiumed, is February.

Wise men have mumbled through their beards, "Good things come in small packages", and, taking all references to paedophilia and wrapping-paper fetishes aside, we could maybe believe that February's one redeeming feature is its size. But no; at least stand the ground and flex your muscles like a man, dammit! It's a jibe; employing dodgy weather for four weeks, then running off as the people's irritation gives way to blind fury; the small child giving you the finger all the way home on the tube, then ducking behind their mum's skirts just as you're about to box their ears.

(Pausing for brief interlude with background music - ices, madam? - I should point out that these words of bile are directed at the British February, not the Australian February, a very different beast. Returning to our piglets, see the last-born now as a walnut-brown sleek and streamlined creature, full of energy and salty goodness. Not a cloud in sight!)

When did this pathological relationship with the shortest month start? Conceivably when my hair was long enough to get frizzy in the pissy rain, or when mock exams started, or after I'd realised that it was the furthest point inland from my birthday. Or when, year after year, I failed to receive gaudy cheap cardboard halfway through it. Make no mistake, this is deliberate. This, men, is war. February's choice of festival says more about its dark motives than any Rorschach blot. Rather than going for the general festival themes of birth, death, guilt and weight-loss, it chooses the bastard do-gooder Valentine. You can't come to the party unless you bring a special guest! And can't you smell the screaming irony in celebrating love, true, eternal and sweet when the rain's bucketing it down outside? Getting between the taxi and the restaurant will soak your shoes alone, not to mention the teddy bear that your angel has bought you. Pah!

So yes. But should we take arms against such feeble tyranny? Death by a thousand paper cuts is still death. As enthused as I am about living to more than my three-score and ten, I have a certain dread of the three-score and ten Februarys that come with it. But perhaps this is our runt's purpose; to make us appreciate its eleven siblings; the best way to make us value the cruelty of our whip-cracking mistress April is to undergo a session with the limpwristed February. Maybe yes; it is for our own good. Bring out the cat o'nine tails and the umbrella.


Previously on upsideclown


Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
10 November 2003. George writes: Dead beat
20 October 2003. George writes: Shortening
29 September 2003. George writes: Manhattanites are Cleavage-Starved
11 September 2003. George writes: How to Bring Us in Line With the Future
18 August 2003. George writes: Slashtastic
28 July 2003. George writes: Underground Independent Small Press Comic Fight Club
7 July 2003. George writes: Careering
16 June 2003. George writes: Choose your own adventure
26 May 2003. George writes: Revelations
8 May 2003. George writes: Picture Perfect
14 April 2003. George writes: MetaPirate
24 March 2003. George writes: Preparation X
3 March 2003. George writes: F of x
13 February 2003. George writes: Three is the magic number
23 January 2003. George writes: Recorded Delivery
30 December 2002. George writes: Meat Bingo or Death
12 December 2002. George writes: Royal Inquisitor
21 November 2002. George writes: This Clown is Cancelled
28 October 2002. George writes: Shopping with God
3 October 2002. George writes: SaferSpoony
16 September 2002. George writes: Supercalanthropomorphicexpealidocious
26 August 2002. George writes: The deformed animal menagerie
5 August 2002. George writes: Plaice that Funky Music, Whitebait
15 July 2002. George writes: Safe as Houses
24 June 2002. George writes: Two Lions (DB/DS)
30 May 2002. George writes: Series 8
9 May 2002. George writes: Market Stall
11 April 2002. George writes: I, the Enlargened, Crunchy Product
18 March 2002. George writes: Cakexterminator
21 February 2002. George writes: Fiction Suit
28 January 2002. George writes: Spunk Gunk
31 December 2001. George writes: Fairytale of New Pork
10 December 2001. George writes: Circular
15 November 2001. George writes: A Man With No Ass Is No Man At All
22 October 2001. George writes: One Night in Heaven
27 September 2001. George writes: Uncut
3 September 2001. George writes: Porn Pants
9 August 2001. George writes: Names of the Roses
19 July 2001. George writes: No Fun Here
21 June 2001. George writes: All Your Elections are Belong to Us
28 May 2001. George writes: Pierced as Fuck
3 May 2001. George writes: My Lovely Horse
9 April 2001. George writes: Eight Hundred and Forty-Three
12 March 2001. George writes: Kill 'Em All
19 February 2001. George writes: Formal
25 January 2001. George writes: Sticks and stones
11 January 2001. George writes: A Thought on Morality
11 December 2000. George writes: You can't put that into a soufflé
13 November 2000. George writes: Lyrical Genius
19 October 2000. George writes: Wet wet wet wet wet
25 September 2000. George writes: Built on an Indian burial ground
31 August 2000. George writes: This Way
31 July 2000. George writes: Runt of the Litter

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